Prince Albert’s Fransaskois community hopes a new immigration office opened in the City on Friday will help draw more French speaking immigrants to the community.
The Service d’accueil et inclusion francophones de la Saskatchewan (SAIF-SK) officially opened their new location across from City Hall Friday afternoon. Fransaskois Community Assembly (Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise – ACF) executive director Ronald Labrecque said it’s an exciting development, and one that came not a moment too soon.
“We previously had an office in Prince Albert several years ago, so this is a return and we’re very happy to be back,” Labrecque said following Friday’s ribbon cutting.
“It’s going to be a great focal point for any French speakers in the area, and we’re hoping to be able to attract a larger community.”
The new SAIF-SK office will share space with the French-Canadian Society of Prince Albert (Société Canadienne-française de Prince Albert – SCFPA). Like Labrecque, SCFPA vice-president Josée Bourgoin said it’s a welcome development.
“Having the provincial organizations wanting to be here and make the effort for Prince Albert as they do for Regina and Saskatoon really shows there’s room for Prince Albert on the provincial map,” Bourgoin said. “It’s a huge gain for us to be able to have everything consolidated into one building so we don’t feel so isolated anymore. Of course, with the immigration services, we can only see hope and positivity for increasing not only the membership, but visibility for our Francophone and French Canadian society of course.”
The new office will provide variety of services designed to help French-speaking newcomers integrate with the community. That includes everything from help finding housing and schools, to assistance filling out forms for health cards and social security numbers.
Labrecque said the organization previously provided those services out of an office in Saskatoon. While most services have moved online since the start of COVID-19, the SAIF-SK wants to get back to face-to-face meetings. Labrecque said that will be easier to do with representatives based out of Prince Albert.
“We had itinerant services that could come here for a day or two to help accompany the people who came here, but we weren’t able to be here on a continuous basis,” he explained. “It made it much more challenging to offer a full array of services.”
The office will be ready to help French speaking newcomers Monday morning. Labrecque said they’re expecting a few new arrivals to touch down in Prince Albert next week. They also have local residents who have moved to the community within the past couple of years who can access the service.
Ideally, Labrecque said they hope to provide services to the non-French speaking community too in the form of language classes. He said that’s a good way of making their presence felt in Prince Albert.
“We’re here not to work just within our own parameters,” he explained. “We’re people who will be part of the community, part of society, and part of the growth of Saskatchewan.”
The new SAIF-SK office is located at 29 – 11th Street East in Prince Albert.